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Prisoner Victims of Guard Assault Win Damages

Prisoner Victims Of Guard Assault Win Damages

Ten prisoners in the D.C. jail learned they were being transferred to another facility. A number of the inmates passively resisted the transfer. They alleged that after the transfer, they were beaten by correctional officers. None of the inmates were placed in maximum security by the prison housing board on the basis of allegations that they assaulted the officers.

The inmates sued 15 guards and the District of Columbia for violation of civil rights. Among the misconduct asserted was the participation of several of the officers in the beatings and the non-intervention of other officers who observed the beatings. The inmates also complained that they were disciplined without written evidentiary findings and asserted that five of the inmates had not had any hearing at all.

A jury awarded the prisoners $29,000 in compensatory and $743,000 in punitive damages on eighth amendment claims arising out of the beatings. The officers and the District were found jointly liable for compensatory damages, with the punitive damages assessed against individual officers. Additionally, the housing board chairman was found liable by the jury for $500 in punitive damages to each of the five inmates denied a hearing before being placed in maximum security. Covington v. District of Columbia, U.S. Dist. Court No. 87-2658, Sept. 5,1990, reported in 34 ATLA L. Rep. 10 (Feb. 1991).

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Related legal case

Covington v. District of Columbia